The Motion concerns compensation payable in respect of destruction of or injuries to property after the 11th July, 1921, the date of the Truce. In considering it, it is necessary to bear in mind that this is only one, though a very important portion, of the problems of compensation in respect of losses suffered in the country from 1919 onward. The method adopted in dealing with other portions of the general problem has been such as to relieve Local Authorities of the liability which they would have had, normally, to bear in this connection. It is, I think, perfectly understood that Local Authorities have escaped certain liabilities for which they are morally responsible. Some charges are almost annually imposed upon Local Authorities by reason of malicious destruction of property, and they have escaped though the amount may not be considerable—I think that it would amount probably to a penny or twopence in the £ per annum. In the case of pre-Truce property damage all liability has been accepted by this Government and the Government of Great Britain, each Government being liable generally for the Acts of its own nationals. That is to say, where a building was destroyed by order of the Dáil or the responsible authority functioning under the Dáil, that is our liability, while on the other hand, the destruction caused by the Forces acting under the British Military Authorities here, that is their liability. The heavy burden imposed on the Exchequer of Saorstat by this commitment alone will probably be such as to necessitate the raising of considerable sums of money over and above the ordinary Revenue balances that we might possibly have, and it is not possible to estimate anything in the neighbourhood of the precise figure that would be required. The claim runs into, I expect, many millions. Quite apart from the question of the correct amount the burden on our Exchequer will depend on the responsibility. On a general survey of the compensation, and having regard to such factors as the burning of the Custom Houses, Police Barracks and large mansions throughout the country, there is very little doubt but that the Dáil will appreciate the serious position in which it is placed. Not only are local authorities relieved of all this but they are also relieved of liability to pay compensation in cases of death or personal injury, and relief under these heads has been definitely conceded regarding the pre-Truce period. The Government propose to make concessions as regards personal claims under the post-Truce period. These facts are necessarily relevant in considering the question of post-Truce property damaged, and the liability of the Central Government to the local authorities to assist in dealing with it on an equitable method and to adjust the charges between the general taxpayers and ratepayers of particular areas. In the pre-Truce period it will be remembered that we were engaged in a National War, and the acts giving rise to loss of this character were to be expected under the circumstances. The benefits of the fight put up in one part of the country were reaped by the whole of the country in the result represented by the present condition of affairs, and, of course, that means the Treaty. There were, accordingly, strong grounds for treating the loss in such circumstances as a National charge. It is indisputable that much of the loss which has been incurred has arisen from acts which had nothing to do with military operations of any sort and which could not have been held by anyone to have been performed in the national interest. Some of these acts were undoubtedly owing to the absence of a police system and other restraints which govern the success of a Government in protecting its citizens from wrong-doers. Under these circumstances the liability may fairly be contended to be a national one, and that is the object of the Motion, and the responsibility must certainly be regarded as local to some extent, and it is this fact the Motion proposes to recognise. It would not be equitable that by making the entire burden a national charge the responsibility in a county which has been comparatively free from these acts should be left in exactly the same position as a county in which they were prevalent. On the other hand, it is recognised that it would be unsuitable in view of the abnormal conditions of the post-Truce injuries to press this unduly. In consequence it is proposed to press only a fraction of the local charge, and to fix a date on which local authorities would have to bear the financial burden of it which it is felt to be necessary they must discharge the onus. It must be spread over several years. It is estimated that the amount required to be raised in the country for payment of post-Truce compensation will largely exceed that of the pre-Truce liability. The raising of the money will present a serious problem which has been aggravated by the injury done to our credit in recent months. That is to say, that unless better order is observed in the immediate future, the Government, or even the local authorities, will not be in a position to raise the money for the ordinary outgoings that are inseparable from Government, either local or central. As matters stand now we are advised it would be inopportune to cast on the Government alone the responsibility of providing these large sums of money necessary to liquidate these debts that have accrued by reason of the present state of affairs. It is important on financial grounds to utilise in some degree the means for raising money from Local Bodies. In doing this it is the intention of the Motion that due regard will be had to the responsibility these Local Bodies have for assuming liabilities. It will be admitted that the position of local authorities in recent years has been very difficult. In so far as the Government is concerned the necessary steps have been taken to remedy the difficulties of Local Government throughout the country. Since the 1st April the Government has paid the grants that have been authorised by the British Government, by far the largest part of the money having been distributed in the last fortnight. Besides, the normal grants of the current year will be available for them if they make a reasonable effort to collect the rates and carry on their administration in a proper economical manner. Their position should be fairly sound henceforth. Most of the local authorities made special efforts to economise in order to compensate to some extent for the loss of the grants that have been withheld. Now these economies materially affect the rates, and it will be found that this year's rates compare favourably with previous years, and it must also be remembered that they will be able to recover further sums in respect of the grants formerly stopped, if tenant purchasers pay their annuities in respect of Land Purchase. Members of the Dáil should realise there is a liability to the State in this connection. A single Member can effect a very useful influence in his own area by bringing home to these people the financial position of the country and the necessity of paying all these debts that are due, and that rents and arrears should be paid promptly. Primarily the amounts for which tenant purchasers are in default have been stopped out of local grants in accordance with the normal procedure and where the tenant purchasers pay up their arrears the stoppages are restored to the local bodies. The Local Taxation Fund has in it what is known as the Guarantee Fund. The Guarantee Fund is utilised to secure that where the Land Commission annuities are not paid that that Fund has got to be made good by local authorities to the extent that these tenant purchasers have failed. It is, therefore, important to preserve the element of local liabilities in order that the machinery for dealing with claims may work out satisfactorily from the economic point of view. The locality must take some interest in contesting claims, and the best local information should be given by every local authority to secure that no extravagant claims will be allowed to go undefended in the various areas. That is perhaps the most important matter connected with the motion. It will be understood that a Government functioning here in a central capacity does not generally, according to what has been prevalent, govern actually. The Government's duty is to distribute justice as fairly and impartially as is possible, but the success of Government really depends on the support given it by various elements making up the community. The Government, under these circumstances, is going to relieve local taxation of a burden for which they are legally responsible: morally they may not be. The Government is going to relieve them, but expects and anticipates that the local authorities, as far as they are concerned, will help the Government in every conceivable way to see that no extravagant decrees are given in these cases. They will be tried in the ordinary way before the County Courts. Although the Government has undertaken liability up to a certain date it must be realised in every county, and by every man in that county as a taxpayer, and by everybody, that eventually out of the taxes have got to be paid the sum that will be levied in respect of the damage done both in the post-Truce and pre-Truce periods. I think there will be general agreement in procedure. The date has not been fixed. We have to discuss it, but it does not mean by not discussing it, a future date. There is no such intention. Unless there is an attempt made by all sections of the community for restoring normal conditions in the country it is obviously useless for us to try and go on with the business of the Dáil. It is also necessary that the people of the country should realise if everybody was to be compensated everyone would be getting something, and it would be a case of pooling National resources. At the moment we cannot borrow beyond means of repayment, and it is therefore essential we should get general support from the community in dealing with these claims and limiting the drain on the taxpayers. I accordingly move the Motion with the addition of the word "wholly" being put in. I think that was left out by the printer by mistake in the second last line.
ABHAR RUIN ON UACHTARAN.
AR a shon gurb é tuairim na Dála so gur cheart roint áirithe den Chúiteamh a bheidh le fáil i dtaobh díobháil no lot do dineadh do mhaoin ón aonú lá déag d'Iul, 1921, an lá do dineadh an t-arm-stad idir Shasana agus Eire, do thuiteam ar choiníollacha áirithe mar fhiacha ar an Náisiún, gidheadh gur cheart dáta do shocrú ó n-a dtuitfeadh na fiacha san ar na comhachtaí áitiúla atá anois. freagarthach ionta.
THAT, while this Dáil is of opinion that a proportion of the Compensation which will be recoverable in respect of damage to or destruction of property, inflicted since the eleventh day of July, 1921, being the date of the truce between the Forces of Great Britain and Ireland, should, under approved conditions, be borne as a National liability, nevertheless, a date should be determined as from which such liability should remain wholly a burden of the local authorities now primarily responsible for the same.
I have pleasure in seconding the motion which has been proposed by the President. It is not necessary that I should say very much following him. It will be plain to every Member of the Dáil who knows anything of Local Authorities that it would be utterly impossible for them to bear the burden which, as the law stands at present, would fall on them for the damage done since the 11th July, 1921. In some places that burden has been extraordinarily heavy. There are places, of course, which could bear it, but there are other places where it would entirely upset the system of finances under which Local Government is carried on at the present time. They will be relieved largely by the Government of this burden, for what has happened in the past. Their duty is none the less to keep claims within some sort of bounds. There are people through the country who do not look upon themselves as bad citizens, who would not do anything in the way of destroying property, who would not perhaps rob the Government or anyone else, but in the ordinary way think it fair game to put in exaggerated claims, and in that way fleece the Irish community. If any person gets beyond his rights in this matter it is the ordinary taxpayer, the farmer, the labourer, the shopkeeper, who would pay the whole amount. Where property has been destroyed, and where it has been proved that people are actually deprived of what was theirs by destruction during the trouble, it is right they should be compensated and that restitution should be made to them by the community, and that taxpayers will have to bear their share of that very heavy burden which is cast on the whole country. But it is utterly wrong that people in the present circumstances should put in exaggerated claims, and it is wrong that anybody who has got to deal with local administration should connive at passing through these exaggerated claims. We hope that everywhere as much care shall be taken by the local authorities in resisting these exaggerated claims as if the burden was to be borne entirely by the rates, and that they would find themselves up against their neighbours, who would announce their displeasure if they allowed things to go through in that way, and would say they were negligent of their duty. With regard to the future, we think it is not very hard that the cost of the damage should be borne locally, though the future may include a little of the past, and the last clause deals largely with the future. We feel it is a good principle that the people of the locality in which the damage occurred should bear the cost, unless there are very exceptional circumstances in the case. It may be that men who had come in from Galway may blow down a bridge in Westmeath, but the people who operate in any particular area and do damage could not, in ordinary circumstances, carry through their operations and avoid being caught either by capture by the troops or by the troops coming in contact with them in action if there was not some lack of courage or some negligence on the part of a big section of the people of that community. That did not apply so much until the big forces of the Irregulars were broken up, but now, in the circumstances that do exist, it does apply, and if the Irregulars are then able to carry on in districts and to break up roads and destroy bridges and tear up rails and all that sort of thing, and if they are allowed to do that for any length of time, it means there is cowardice displayed on the part of the people of the district. People complain of the way communications are being disturbed. Some people complain and say it is a terrible state of affairs, and they often expect the army and the troops and the Government to do everything to stop it. We in the Government have no interest to serve but the interests of the people; we have no authority but the authoriy of the people, and the whole burden must not be cast upon the Government or the army. The work of restoring order is the work of the people, and the people must take their share in it, and if they do not take their share, and if blood is shed, and if property is destroyed that need not be destroyed, it is the people who will have to pay. And it is right that we should take every step to make everybody realise—every citizen who is not against order and good Government, and the whole principle of democracy and majority rule—that they should realise it is their duty to be active, and it is their duty to assist. It is the duty of the civilians in any neighbourhood, as much as the soldiers, to come forward and stop this. It is their duty to help to break up and destroy the Irregular forces, and to bring about their capture or their deaths, if that is the only way to put an end to their operations. And it is because we believe that the civilians have not carried out that duty that we say it is right that this principle of some of the cost being put upon the district in which it occurs, should be maintained. It is, as I said, a fair principle, but, of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and it will happen in districts that people could not, by anything they might have done, hinder certain damage; but, taking it broadly, the burden people will have to pay will be a burden rightly cast upon them through their cowardice or through their negligence, and it is well that people who fail in their duty in a particular district should know that the burden would not be entirely spread over the whole community, and that they should have a heavier part of it to bear than people in the community who behaved as well as people could behave.
God save Dublin!
At the beginning one might say that so very important a motion as this, implying all that is now revealed, ought not to be discussed upon such inadequate notice. If one wished to do so, I think we could claim that it is disorderly to deal with it at the present time, inasmuch as notice was not handed in by 11 o'clock yesterday morning. I don't propose to do that, but to call attention to the very important question raised by the motion. We gathered from the Minister for Local Government that this is a war measure. We heartily endorse the principles laid down by the President in regard to the desirability of the development of a sense of civic responsibility, but I could not help thinking while listening to the speech of the Minister for Local Government and feeling that if we had time between 7 o'c. last night and 3 o'c. to-day to look up the files of the newspapers of the period when the Malicious Injuries Acts applying to Ireland were being proposed in the House of Commons we would have found that the speeches of the Chief Secretary of that time would have been very like the speeches we heard to-day from the Ministerial Benches and the speeches we heard from the Irish Benches at that time would be perhaps somewhat like the speeches you will hear from this side of the Dáil on this occasion. One is tempted to think that the principles which were laid down and the opposition to the proposals which were set forth in the old days only applied because there was a foreign Government. Now that distinguishes many people in this country from those for whom I have the honour of being able to speak to-day We think the same principles should apply whether you have a foreign Government or a Home Government, and that brings me to the kernel of this particular question. I oppose the principle of making a locality pay for damage done when that locality has not been given the power or responsibility for preventing that damage. If you lay to the charge of a county the power and the responsibility for training the youth of that county and give them police powers then you might have reason to say that that community, that county, that district, should be responsible for the disorderly conduct of any of its citizens. But when you deprive them of that power, when you centralize your authority and jurisdiction and say one corner of that community must bear the burden laid on them by some other community over which they have no control, I say that is an inequitable proposition. It may be contended, and it was contended, when these Acts were passed before, that the local people did the damage and that they could have prevented the damage. It was a purely local agrarian trouble in the main that caused the passing of those Acts, but the position that is now raised differs from that very materially. It is not a purely local agrarian trouble, it is not a trouble which can be prevented by the action of any local authority. We read a week or two ago from the propaganda Department that all the damage done in Donegal or at least a great part of it was done by people from Cork. Do you want to make the Donegal people responsible for the damage done by the people from Cork?
Flying columns organised in one district, imported themselves into another district, did damage there, and then cleared away again, and you say the district in which the damage is done is going to be made liable for that damage. I say that is a national responsibility, and one which ought not to be thrown upon a locality. If it is just that it should be done from a date now to be fixed, it is just it should be done since the date of the Truce. If it is just that it should be done from the date now to be fixed, for damage to be suffered some time in the future, then the damage to the City of Dublin—O'Connell Street and the Four Courts— should be borne by the City of Dublin. I am sure any locality, any town, any county which is henceforward going to suffer damage will have a just reason to complain when they see that Dublin is not compelled to pay the damage done under similar circumstances to that for which they must pay. I could excuse the Minister in bringing forward this proposition preparatory to, shall I say, the revival of the Malicious Injuries Act, if he had been able to come here and say that the military position is so much improved that we are now getting to something like normality, and that any damage done is purely a local ebullition; then there may be some justification for the contention of the Minister. That is not the state of things. We are asked now to agree to a motion relating to damage which may be suffered by any locality, and we are going to be asked to agree to a motion of a similar kind in regard to personal losses—that personal losses, either by death or injury, shall be brought under the same category, and that from a date to be fixed any damage of a malicious kind which will be suffered by any person is to be borne by that locality, no matter how negligent—I put it to that degree—the Government troops may have been in preventing the movement of Irregulars from one part of the country to another. Now, that is not a reasonable proposition to be put to the country. It will be looked upon as an attempt to saddle excessive responsibility upon an area where you may possibly have, by military action, driven a large number of Irregular troops. If, for instance, a sweeping movement drove a considerable number of active Irregulars into Co. Limerick or into Co. Cork, and there, for vengeance, they decided to blow up everything, that locality is to be bound to pay all that damage. It is an unjust proposition, and I ask the Dáil to oppose it.
I do not desire to give a silent vote upon this motion; but I find that I will have to vote against the Government. Therefore I think I had better give my reasons for doing so. First, I join with the last Deputy in making a complaint about the short notice given over such a very important motion. I object to this motion on similar grounds to Deputy Johnson. Dublin, being the capital of Ireland, has been, as everybody knows, the bull's eye, practically, for the last six years for all serious troubles. If this motion passes, and a certain body of outside individuals make up their minds to attack all the new Government buildings that are situated in Dublin, is the unfortunate Dublin ratepayer to be asked to pay for that damage? If this Dáil or the buildings surrounding it, which are a very valuable lot of buildings, known to be the Headquarters of the Irish Government at the present moment—if a certain body outside thinks that it would be a great victory to burn down these buildings, am I to understand by this motion now proposed that Dublin citizens, and nobody else, will be asked to pay for that damage? Mr. Chairman, I say Dublin has suffered too much in the past. I think that all this damage, the burnings and destruction and cost, should be made a national liability. I think it is not fair— it will not be fair—if one hundred or two hundred young men from Cork or Tipperary should to-night make up their minds to come to Dublin to have a blow at the Government, and if they should attack the Government buildings, or buildings known to be owned by supporters of the Government, I think it is most unfair, and I say it is unworthy of the Government, to ask that Dublin citizens should be responsible for that damage. We all know that when a recent outburst was threatened in Cork, how a number of business men in Cork met, and they decided that it was going to be "God save Cork." These men were stopped from carrying on the affray in Cork; but they have ammunition and material at their command, and they want to use it. If they come to the capital of the country and destroy the Dublin citizens' property, are we to make the local rates pay for it? The President may have something in his mind, and has not told us all. I think they have kept back too much in the past, and they ought to tell us exactly the meaning of the motion. The President is an old Corporator. He knows the troubles of the Dublin Corporation, and he knows the difficulties they had to contend with. Some few years ago I opposed, in another House, an almost similar motion to this coming from a British Cabinet Minister. Mr. Chairman, as I am going to vote against the Government on this motion, I think it is necessary to tell them, and to tell my friends outside, that I come here to support the Government on the Treaty, and on the Treaty only. On matters such as this, affecting the citizens of Dublin who send me here, I am going to retain my independence. Therefore I will vote against the Government on this motion.
Taim se ag eirighuidh cun cuiduighú leis an run so os Ar Cómhar. I rise to support the motion the President has made before this Dáil. And I do not rise by any means as a ticketed member of any body or any administration in this Dáil. I always prefer to speak here in accordance with my own views and according to my own convictions, and to register my own vote governed by that condition, and that condition alone. Now, I have sympathised largely nearly in every particular with the gentlemen who sit on the Labour benches here opposite; and these sympathies are not superficial sympathies, but they are deep down sympathies. At the same time I have a thorough sense of my national responsibilities as the representative of a constituency which is largely farming. And I have been surprised here since this Dáil commenced to find in some cases the peculiar attitude that the gentlemen who speak for Labour on these benches prefer to adopt on many questions that come before this Assembly. They do not, to my mind, portray any real regard to the interests of the community that they themselves should be here representing. Because they are concerned with little trifling interpositions, and objections that are calculated to prevent this country from proceeding on the road that would serve to give some advantage to the community, that they themselves represent or should represent here. Now, Deputy Mac Eoin here says that this is a war measure, proposed by the President. Now, I say it is the very reverse. It is a peace measure. To my mind the President in moving this motion clearly indicates to this Dáil, that he believes that the conditions which do prevail in war time under which damages should be a National responsibility—that we have arrived at the end of that period, and that we can now commence a new peace period, a period in which those damages can be borne by the local authorities, and with a thorough sense of their responsibility in the matter. In peace time of course it is well known in every country that these damages are borne by local authorities. The reasons for that are evident and obvious. Because local authorities are the people who have the responsibility in their own areas. They have effective control.
They have effective control. Mr. Johnson says they have no control. They have effective moral control, and moral control of a district is far more important than military control because it is moral control that governs and guides; and military control is only an accidental thing. A man with a gun has no effect with 15 or 20 men if they have the moral courage to stand up to him. It is the moral control that governs.
It is the moral control you must rest upon; the other is only an accident; it is of no consequence. It is part of the machinery that is invented in order to try and prevent the possibility of moral control being ineffective. But it is not possible to enable any authority to succeed in doing that. There are certain things here I would like to hear explained by the President when this question is finally to be decided, and he gets up to reply. The Pre-Truce liabilities are to be a National responsibility in co-operation with and in arrangement with those who were responsible for them; that is the British Government. In this case decrees have been given, and very exorbitant decrees at that, calculated by the gentlemen who gave these decrees in the belief that they would be paid by the Local authorities, and, in order to penalise them, and to break down their moral courage, they gave these exorbitant decrees. Now, I would like to know when these will be properly ascertained, and how they will be brought to the proper figure, and when we may expect in these areas to get some settlement of these claims. Now, as to the question of fixing the time from which these charges will be local charges:— The case raised with regard to Dublin by Deputy Byrne is a problematical case altogether, and the same might apply to any other area in the country. A lot of gentlemen might be able to calculate on being able to penalise an area by a specific way of their own. You have no security against that at any time, you have nothing to secure you against any such penalty being inflicted on any particular area on account of the desire of particular gentlemen who would band themselves together for that purpose. This motion says it is only a proportion of these claims that are to be made local charges.
Is that correct? The word "wholly" alters that.
It is in future, "wholly," but I mean the proportion of the compensation from July the 11th up to now.
Read it through.
It is the proportion up to now that I mean. Of course after that it will not be a question of proportion, it will be a question of being "wholly" chargeable. I want to deal with the proportion in the interval. I want to know what will be the proportionate arrangement made in the interval as between the charge to be borne by the local authorities and what will be the national responsibility? The President says that economies that can be effected in counties and in local government, and by the compliance of defaulting tenants in the payment of their annuities which will largely make up for any charges that will be payable by any of these county authorities. I do not know how far that is true, or will it be sufficient, but whatever it may be, the principle the President put forth is a sound one—it is the only principle behind which any civil government could stand, and I do not see how they could make it National responsibility at the present time, from the date on which they decide that they have power, and they will exercise that power to see Civil Government is discharging the duties it should discharge, and that it has a reasonably adequate security behind it to make any force out against it comply with its terms. The President's statement gives us an idea that the period has arrived in a great many instances in any case. I do not know if he means it to be general all over Ireland. But in many localities they are prepared for Civil Government, and the sooner that Civil Government is established the better, I would think. I was sorry to hear the Minister for Local Government make certain references in the course of his speech. He certainly put forth moral arguments in the soundest possible way, although he was carried to extremes in many things, and I think he will recognise that himself. Deputy Johnson says this should be done all along if it is going to be done in the future. These conditions are totally different from war conditions; if we had war conditions, these have them modulated. I intend to support the resolution, and I rise to do so, and I do not want to vote without giving my reasons why I think it ought to be supported.
I think the Dáil will agree that the last speech was a most unusual one. Deputy McGoldrick told us he was supporting the Government's motion. I suppose it was his anxiety to attack the Labour Party. He asked the President what the motion meant, and then he ended up by an attack on the Minister for Local Government, which shows conclusively that his anxiety was to say something about the Labour Members, and that he was not speaking in the interests of his constituents. I am definitely opposed to this not from a Labour point of view, but from the point of view of civil responsibility. To my mind this is a more important matter than the Constitution at the present moment, and, like Deputy Johnson and Deputy Byrne, I believe due notice in accordance with the present Standing Orders under which this Dáil is working should have been given to enable Deputies to get into direct touch, and to find out the state of affairs prevailing in their different constituencies so far as malicious injury claims are concerned. I think we may take it now there is a war in this country. The Government have repeatedly told us that for the past fortnight. In the King's Bench the other day a representative of the Government, I take it on the advice of the Law Agent, Mr. Kennedy, stated that there was a war prevailing in the country. The King's Bench upheld that contention. Now, if there is war prevailing in the country I take it that the Government ought to be responsible for any injury that is committed up to the time that the Government is able to bring the present state of affairs to an end. Mr. Blythe puts forward the view that there should be some moral courage in this country. I quite agree with him when he says that the people ought to be behind the Government in trying to prevent malicious injury all over the country. But I do not think he is serious in suggesting that the people are able to prevent this thing. He knows as well as every member in this Dáil that there are bands of Irregulars in practically every county in Ireland, and it is when people are in their beds at night that the damage is done. I am sure neither he nor any member of his Cabinet expects the people to be out night after night watching these things. To my mind if the Government persists in the attitude they are taking up in this matter instead of developing the country and helping it to get on its feet again they are going to kill the nation in its infancy. They know, and every member in the Dáil knows, that the public bodies in Ireland have been crippled for the past five or six years by reason of the fact that they have not been getting the grants or their rates. Proper facilities were not provided for them in order to get in their rates, and they know that these local bodies are looking forward to the time when civil administration will be set up, that will enable them to do something for their localities. If these malicious injury charges are going to be made local charges you are going to prevent the public bodies doing anything for the next twenty years, because you are going to place a burden on the people which will not warrant the public bodies levying rates for anything but malicious injury. I think you will agree that by reason of the bridges being blown up, adjacent to the cities and towns of Ireland, that the people have suffered sufficiently by reason of the country people being unable to bring their produce to the markets in towns, without asking them to pay special rates for the damage. I do appeal to the Government to re-consider their action in this matter. I think the whole country will be against them in it, and I would ask them seriously to re-consider their relations with the country before they would definitely decide to put this motion into operation.
I rise to support the motion of the President. I have only seen it since I came into the Dáil but I do not complain that I have not received longer notice. I think I am right in stating that the people generally, right down through the country, from Dublin to Cork, for some time past have been expecting such a motion from the President, and I am very glad, at all events as one member, that the motion is on the paper to-day, and I trust the whole Dáil will give it their unstinted support. Every citizen, whether man or woman, from Donegal to Cork, has been discussing this matter of the destruction of property for months past. Various suggestions were put forward, and all, at all events, agree that we are not the loyal citizens we ought to be. We know that in many instances little boys are going about with revolvers; we have seen them in many places. We know very well that they do not carry these revolvers about for sport. And what efforts do we, as ordinary citizens, make to disarm these young fellows—what efforts do we make to prevent them from destroying public property or life? Absolutely none. We simply look on at the boys with the revolvers; we go to our homes, and we read in the morning papers of the destruction that has taken place. We then commence to grumble. We know thoroughly well that the Government cannot raise fifty or sixty thousand troops, arm and equip them, in a week, and send them from Cork to Dublin. Nobody knows better than Deputy Johnson and his Party that no Government could undertake such an enormous burden as the enrolling of fifty or sixty thousand troops all at once, and send them all over the country, protecting every bridge and every household from here to Cork and from here to Donegal. We are sent here to do our very best to govern the country and to safeguard the rights and the property of the people. When we realise these things, I am surprised that Deputy Johnson and his Party do not give the loyal support that is expected from every citizen. It was suggested that if the people from Cork go up to Donegal and destroy property, that Cork should be held responsible for it. If they did not get an invitation from people in Donegal to go there, and if they were not welcomed by people in Donegal, they would not go, and surely the people of Donegal should be made pay for that property. We won't go to Donegal if we feel that there are true citizens watching our movements who will prevent us. We would think twice of entering Cork or Donegal. There is nothing in this motion that we cannot vote for. When it will appear in the Press in the morning people down through the country will perhaps assert themselves. There is one thing I would suggest to the Government, and it is this: if this Dáil decides to-day that the responsibility will be thrown on the local authorities, as from to-day, I think they should at all events assist the people in defending their property by organising them and putting arms into the hands of responsible citizens. (A Labour Member: "Too much arms.") Not at the moment. I do believe, from my knowledge of the country, that we have a sufficient number of loyal citizens who are ready, in the morning, to become organised for a short period or a long period, if necessary in order to protect lives and property in their various districts. It has been tried in portions of Tipperary with very great success, and what is possible in Tipperary may be also possible in Cork and Donegal. We know thoroughly well that the local authorities so far are heavily burdened; grants have been withheld from them and we know how difficult it is to collect rates owing to the state of disorder that exists. You could not call it a state of war. For some time past the people are becoming practically demoralised, and they are evading their liabilities and responsibilities to the State. I think it is nearly time, at all events, that the Government should inquire into the responsibilities and liabilities of the public bodies and find out how they stand at the moment. Even if this motion has the approval of the Dáil to-day it will be found very hard for the local authorities to collect rates. Probably it will be found, in the near future, absolutely necessary to establish machinery, at all events in parts of the country where disorder is not so great, to collect those rates and to put the various Councils and various bodies on their feet, to put them in a position by which they will be able henceforth to meet any further liabilities that may be imposed upon them. I do not think it is absolutely right to refer to the disorder in the country as war. If a number of armed men stand up against the lawful authority you cannot possibly call it war. In no other part of the civilised globe could such a thing be described as war or looked upon as war. We here in Ireland have not the moral courage to stand up against it. I suppose when we cannot establish the Republic we must try to establish a Soviet or some other revolutionary thing. We call it war so long as it suits our book, in the hope that by and by we may be able to establish something else besides a Republic; we call it war and we make the Government legalise it. Look at England, the country we were always taught to hate— we were never told why. If a boy or a man goes out there to destroy property does he succeed? There is one thing at all events that we must admit about the English people, and it is that they are good citizens. Much property will not be destroyed in London or Birmingham or Liverpool. If it were attempted you would have the whole people of Liverpool down on the persons who tried it before they would have accomplished it. The sooner we realise what good citizenship means the sooner all these burdens will be got rid of. There is only one way to do that, and it is to give warning that henceforth it is the duty of all loyal citizens to protect their own property, and if they do not they must pay for the damage.
I think we may take for granted what we heard from the last speaker that Cork is now quite in order, and that all the men belonging to the flying columns from Cork have returned to their native place, and are determined to carry on the work of civilised government. I have quite a different view altogether of the situation in Cork from that which Deputy Hennessy has taken in his speech. I have stated previously in this Dáil—perhaps I was misunderstood—that there is a certain lack of moral courage in this country at this moment which is due no doubt to the conditions which have prevailed in this country during the past four or five years and to the conditions particularly which have been prevailing since the Truce. I don't want it to be understood that that lack of moral courage is due to the fact that people are not prepared to face the risks arising out of the war that is going on, but it is due, in my opinion, to the fact that the people are not prepared to face the realities of the situation arising out of the adoption of the Treaty by the second Dáil.
One would think from the statement of the President, and followed up by the Minister for Local Government, that troops and police were scattered in every area where those troops and police had been previous to the adoption of the Treaty. Now, I think everyone will agree, no matter what constituency he comes from, that that is not the position, and it is only in the large cities and towns that you find Free State troops and no police. I think it is very difficult for any Government, let alone for a Government which the Minister for Home Affairs has said is a Government of young and inexperienced men. I agree that when the military and police forces which were in this country under the domination of Great Britain had cleared out, and when they were faced with the problem of replacing them, the home Government had a very difficult task. It would have been a very difficult task if conditions were normal in this country, and it was made far more difficult by the fact that we had disruption among the people here, which prevented the Government set up as a result of the vote of the Second Dáil from functioning up to the present time. The motion means that from a certain date, which is not named in the resolution, that responsibility for malicious injuries should be placed on the local authorities. There may be some reason for the Government putting up that proposition if the County Councils or District Councils had at their disposal a military or police force to carry out order in those particular areas; but seeing that the Government has not provided that protection, I do not see why the County Councils should be faced with the responsibility of meeting the claims. In most cases, so far as I know, where damage has occurred, it arose out of the fact that people have come from outside places. Now, I represent a constituency in this Dáil in company with the Minister for Home Affairs, and of which it has been said, and perhaps truly said, that the people there did not do their bit during the Anglo-lrish war. The position at the present time, as far as I know—I refer to Offaly—is that damage to the extent of £500,000 has been caused through people who came in flying columns from outside areas. I cannot understand how any amount of moral courage would enable citizens in that particular area, where troops are far away from the place where the damage has occurred, to prevent what has taken place in those particular areas. There might be something in the argument if the Provisional Government was putting arms into the hands of citizens who were prepared to express their loyalty to the Provisional Government, but until that is done, or until some scheme is put forward by the Government, I do not see how any amount or military forces in all the areas that have been taken from the British Government, I do not see how any amount of moral courage will help to improve the situation that we find in the country at the present time. Deputy McGoldrick said that he had a thorough sense of his national responsibilities. Well, now, we as a Party, and as individual members of that Party, went to the country at the last election and put before them a certain programme, and I claim that we, as well as every other Member of this Dáil, have also a thorough sense of our national responsibility in the matter. We did not ask for a blank cheque. We put the facts before them in that election. That cannot be challenged by Deputy McGoldrick, or by the Government, or by any Minister in this Dáil, and I do not want to be sitting in these benches listening to taunts from Deputy McGoldrick or from any others who are prepared, when a Minister gets up, to march out on the lobby and put a penny in the slot. Simply because a Government Minister has said a certain thing you adopt the machine system. We differ in that respect at any rate. We have some amount of liberty in some respects regarding our position as members of the Labour Party. We have certain liberties which apparently are not enjoyed by members on the opposite benches. It has been stated by Deputy McGoldrick that the Co. Councils, or people in the local areas, have control. They have nominal control, but not control that would enable them to have their decrees carried out. Therefore I say until you give the local authorities some power, or authority, that will enable them to put their decrees into operation, then I say you cannot rightly place responsibility on them, such as the terms of the Resolution propose. We all know in regard to the question of rates and on other matters affecting the civil population in the country that there has been what is known as the farce of the Republican Courts. People have been summoned to these courts which have become farcical in a sense since the Treaty with the British Government. People have been brought before these courts, quite rightly, to compel them to discharge their responsibilities as citizens. The courts may have found in favour of the local authority or in favour of the plaintiff in a particular case, but we find that there was no one in that particular area to enforce the decree of the court. Unless you set up some courts and place behind them some authority to see their decrees are carried out I do not know how you are going to rescue people from the demoralisation that prevails to-day. I do not see how you are going to compel local authorities to carry out the obligations of a resolution such as has been proposed. I say in reference to this resolution that the date of its operation should not be fixed until you have in the country a national or local police force, and courts whose decrees will be enforced. I do not see that you have any right to place upon the local authorities responsibilities such as are imposed by the terms of the resolution, and I therefore oppose it.
I think we should get from the mover of this resolution what proportion he has in his mind should be paid by the local authorities, and what proportion should be paid by the Government before we are asked to vote on this matter. I think we should also get the date from which the local authorities are to be wholly responsible for the cost of those damages. I look on this motion as an emergency motion, and therefore I will support the Government for that reason if these two questions are answered to my satisfaction. The first is one having something to do with local government. For a number of years I am satisfied beyond doubt that the nation will have to bear the burden of damage by malicious acts if it is to carry on. It is a most pernicious thing to penalise innocent people. That idea was conceived by our late oppressors for the purpose of destroying the moral courage in every district in which malicious injury was committed, for the reason that the innocent had to pay for acts of the guilty. That is, to my mind, a very bad principle. I think that the Malicious Injuries Acts that applied while England was here should go, and must go. I look upon this, as I say, as an emergency motion, and therefore will vote with the Government for it, but I think the two points I have mentioned ought to be made clear as to this emergency measure—the proportion that has to be paid by the people and the part to be paid by the Government; and at what date the burden has to be wholly borne by the people. I think the people are too heavily burdened at the present time to bear any proportion of this charge. I feel that if we have a Government whose duty it is to govern and is not able to govern, that it ought to pay. I was trying to think out some plan by which these charges could be met, and the idea struck me that something on the lines of a National Insurance Scheme might be put up by this Government for the purpose of meeting these charges. I think that a little investigation on this matter by representatives of public bodies, such as County Councils and Urban and Rural District Councils, in consultation for this purpose, might find some measure far more preferable than the method that is in existence at the present time. What did England do in 1916 when she failed to govern in this city? Did she not foot the bill, every penny of it? And she did it because she failed to govern. Therefore, I think this Government is responsible for every penny of this money. I think a more equitable way is to pay it from the public Exchequer—that is my idea. It is one that I will continue to put before this Dáil later on when the trouble has ceased in the country, but I do not want in any way to embarrass the Government, who have too many embarrassments at the present time. Therefore, I will support the Government if the two questions I have submitted are satisfactorily answered.
I find myself for the first time here in this Dáil very much in sympathy with the point of labour.
An unholy alliance.
I would ask the Minister to consider whether the game is worth the candle, or whether the proposal would have the effect that is intended. If the Government are convinced that it is going to have that effect I would support them, but I have great doubts that it would have that effect, and in fact I believe that it will not and that the people who are doing the damage will continue to do it. The damage is done by irresponsible people who are not going to pay; people who know nothing will come out of their pockets, and the measures that the Government contemplate will have no effect whatever. As a matter of fact, the areas that Irregulars have cause to dislike, because they are not in sympathy with them, could very easily, by their action, be made areas that are going to suffer a considerable amount of expense. There are big areas in Co. Kilkenny and in Co. Tipperary that I know well are not in sympathy with the Irregulars, and on whom they would be very glad to take advantage and make them pay. I have certain areas in my mind and I have no doubt whatever they would be very pleased to make these areas suffer. These are District Council areas and County areas— which will be the dividing line on these local taxes? I suppose the County area and not the District Council area. There is nothing to prevent the people from one county coming across the border and committing damage in another county—not as a matter of necessity, but out of spite and to pay off old scores. I ask the Government to reconsider their position. I do not think it is worth it, and I will certainly vote against it. I heard our friend Deputy Magennis talk about State Insurance— Government Insurance. At the moment I think that advice is not the advice of a Solomon. If the Government set up State Insurance, I think, at the moment, Ireland would be quickly burned down for them. Insurance is all right, if there is a chance of making it a paying proposition, but in this case there is a chance of bankruptcy. There have been districts and counties that were law-abiding, but what about the counties to which they did not afford any protection. What about districts of Cork and of my own county and of County Tipperary? It is true that Cork has supplied a good part of Ireland with men who have taken the gun and the match and done damage over large areas—more in other counties than they did in their own, and I am speaking from experience.
You should not let them in.
It's all very well to say that, but some people did stand up to them and say that, but you must remember the gun is the great argument now. The greatest "slogan"—give him a gun and put him in front of Darrell Figgis and I promise you he will convince him.
It was tried before.
That was only an accident. I certainly agree with Deputy Hennessy when he said this was not a war. It is not a war, and it does not come up to the level of anything approaching a war; it is merely an armed scramble As far as I see, it is war on dead matter, bridges and trees and that sort of thing. Men who would not face men in the open or behind barricades make war on bridges and war on dead matter, simply because they have not the pluck to fight. I agree it is not a war, and instead of raising the nation and our status, we have disgraced ourselves. Deputy McGuinness is perfectly correct. Cheap bravery, men who want to make up arrears; men who did nothing in the old days try something they can do in the night. These people work in the night and do damage upon the most respectable elements of the community. It is the good and the law-abiding element who are going to pay. It is all very well to ask men to come out. I only knew a few who came out to resist the argument of the gun. It is a strong and a very convincing argument when the average man, unarmed, is not in a position to meet it. If the Government is convinced their proposal is going to stop this conduct and be a deterrent to others, I will vote for it, and if they are not convinced—and I believe they are not—I will vote against it. I will accordingly exercise my reason and vote against it.
There has been in the criticism of this resolution a certain amount of confusion of thought. There were such expressions used as: "They were placing the responsibility upon the people," and practically all the talk went on the lines that this was some tremendous new instrument of oppression the Government had forged, and was asking this Assembly to endorse and patent. The fact is—the legal position at the moment is—that the local authorities and the local rates are liable for all the damage that has been committed in what Mr. Gorey calls this "armed scramble." That is the position at the moment, and it is a position that only this assembly can change, and the effect of the President's resolution is to get an expression of opinion from this Dáil that that should no longer be the position, but that the Government realising the enormous burden that that legal position imposed on the rates and ratepayers of the country, in a proportion yet to be fixed, should relieve that position. And then the resolution goes on to say that that Government assistance should not be continued indefinitely, but that a date should be fixed after which it would cease. The date might not necessarily be the same date all over the country. It might be one date for this county and a month or six months ahead for another. That would depend on the extent to which normal conditions were restored and civil administration pushed ahead in particular counties. Deputies should at least clear their minds and face the fact that at the moment the legal position is that for such damage local rates are liable. The people, said Deputy McGuinness, are too heavily burdened to bear any proportion of this damage. Unfortunately, the people must bear it. Now, Deputy Johnson used a certain line of argument with which we are not unfamiliar. He took the extreme and exceptional cases, and talked about them as if they were the normal cases, and based his argument upon that assumption. Men from Cork, he said, had gone to Donegal and did damage there, and he asked did the Government propose that the people of Donegal should pay for the damage done by those bad people from Cork. The fact is, if that was the position in some particular place, it is not the position all over. You can take it practically that in every county 70 or 80 per cent. of the damage is done by natives of that county, and, moreover, with the full knowledge, and perhaps also with the approval, of a great many people in that county. These are the facts; and extreme cases quoted by Deputy Johnson in his very able and very plausible opposition to this resolution are not normal every-day facts upon which the Government must proceed. Now, lately I was speaking to a friend of mine who had been down in Cork, and he met a farmer who personally was pro-Treaty and proGovernment, and he told him with a certain complacency, and a certain smug pride, that his son had been in charge of the party who had blown up a bridge about a mile and a half from his house. He said he was pro-Treaty, but he believed in giving a young fellow his head. Well, when that farmer gets his bill for his proportion of the cost of damage of that particular bridge he will not be so much inclined to pride himself upon his broadmindedness and the latitude he is prepared to give to a young fellow, and he will realise that the wild oats sown by the young fellow are going to bring a particularly bad crop to himself. This motion was put down, first of all, because it was necessary to clear people's minds on this whole question of the wanton destruction of property that is taking place in the country, and it is necessary to provoke thought upon the matter, and it was put down also in the hope of eliciting some better suggestion than what is embodied in the Resolution. We have heard, in my opinion, no such suggestion. What we are asking you to say now within the terms of the Resolution is that the burdens at present placed locally on the shoulders of the Local Authority and the rates are too great to be borne wholly by the rates, and it is necessary and advisable that, for a proportion to be fixed, the Government shall come in in aid of that, but that position ought not to remain indefinitely, and that there must be some date after which damage committed in a particular area shall be paid in the ordinary way from the rates of that year. The whole principle of the Criminal and Malicious Injury Act was challenged by some speakers. Now I understand that there is something pretty well corresponding to the principle of these Acts in France, and France has a centralised police force, and you may have that kind of civic sense in the community that will say the wrongdoer is an enemy in an especial manner of that free community; that the person who comes along and fires a house, or wrecks or blows up a bridge, is an enemy of the people of that free community. There must be a special interest in putting a stop to that kind of wanton damage and blackguardism. I agree with Deputy McGoldrick that if you awaken the sense of the community against that kind of thing it is less likely to happen. People imagine that because money comes from the Governmental Exchequer that they are not paying it at all. Well, of course, the money in the Governmental Exchequer is the money of the Irish people, and if it goes out of the Exchequer it is the Irish people who are paying it. They do not realise that as much as if they were paying it in rates, but it will not come from outside, and all these millions of money that must be paid will come out of the pockets of the Irish people, whether they pay them in rates or in taxes.
May I intervene for a moment. I want to make a suggestion which I think, if the President will receive and give consideration to, will help. I suggest that when claims are made the Ministry can claim representation in the business and be heard in the case.
We intend to do that.
And, secondly, that this proportion, which is not fixed, and which is, I gather, the proportion to be paid to the Local Authority, may be varied as from a fixed date. Though I still dissent from the principle, one can admit that in special circumstances perhaps a larger proportion could be borne by the Local Authorities after a date to be fixed, and particularly it you make a differentiation as between county and county and district and district, but to throw the whole responsibility on a district would certainly be unwise and undesirable.
I wish to say a few words against this motion. When one sits here in this Chamber and listens for hours to the speeches, so illuminating and elaborate, from gentlemen like the President and other Ministers, it brings one's mind back to the time when we had a foreign Government in this country. Personally I think the ratepayers of Ireland at the present time must be allowed some little facility more than what they had at the hands of a foreign Government. When we consider for a moment how these malicious injuries claims were first brought in upon our nation, I am sure that the President, if he cast his mind back, will see that they were imposed upon our country against the will of the people. To my mind these acts were first brought into the country when the English settler came over here, and grabbed the land of our ancestors, and in contriving to remove them our people destroyed their properties, and the English Government brought forward these Malicious Injury Acts in order to place the whole responsibility upon the neighbourhood where the damage was done. Well, we now, just as the Irish Nation is rising up for the first time after seven and a half centuries of striving for our liberty, are we going to press the iron heel upon it, not by a foreign government, but by our own Government, in order to penalise them? We find this Dáil, which was to meet on the 1st July, was through dark clouds of tragedies prevented from sitting, and tragedy after tragedy followed ever since; but the worst tragedy, to my mind, was the action of the Government in reducing the wages of workers who claimed to be Civil Servants. Now, we find, not satisfied with all that, the Government want to get the whole country up against them by making the ratepayers responsible for all damage done, no matter whether it be done by Irregulars or Regulars or National troops. I am prepared to support the motion of the President on one condition. I am prepared to support it if he allows me to fix the date of its operation. I will fix it, and it will be Tibb's Eve. There has been a great deal said about moral power. I was more than delighted to hear one Deputy stand up and say that ten men could stand before one rifle and declare their moral power, but I can assure you that one rifle could wipe out one hundred brains provided the possessors of the brains are unarmed. I do not for a moment agree with the state the country is in, because we want freedom, to go about our business. We want the nation governed as a nation by the Irish people themselves, who have voted the Government into power, and now we find that very Government appointed by the people trying to penalise and hamper them by throwing all the responsibility of these acts upon the shoulders of the ratepayers. I have not been sent here by the ratepayers, but by the Labour movement, but I recognise to the full the responsibility upon my shoulders, and am prepared to carry out that responsibility and help the Government selected by the majority of the Irish people— help them to function, provided they act according to the people's will. Now I have a suggestion to make, Mr. Chairman, with which I hope the Dáil will agree. If we are sent here by the people of Ireland to represent them, surely we must declare ourselves a free and sovereign Parliament. That has been explained by both Deputies and Ministers for the past fortnight; then, if we are free ourselves, why do we deny that freedom to the people who sent us here; in other words— I would ask that this motion be sent to each County and District Council throughout the land, and let them take the will of the people on the motion, and let the majority rule. I do not see why it could not be done. There is no great hurry to force this motion here to-day, but I fully realise the position we are in. I was more than pleased to hear Deputy McGuinness, from Longford, say he was prepared to support the motion. Deputy McGuinness is the Chairman of the Longford County Council, and I was at that public Board when that County Council turned down the order of the Government as to the defence to be put up in the trial of Malicious Injury Claims, and all they did was to leave it in the hands of Mr. McGuinness. I am a member of county bodies as well as he, and I think from the ratepayers' point of view he should get a warm reception when he returns. There is another important point. It is— what is to become of the working class people of Ireland if the compensation for these malicious injuries is placed upon them. In the County Westmeath the rates are 15s. 1d. in the £1. I know that several deputies—even Deputy Gorey has thrown in his lot with labour merely to save his pocket,—smiled at the idea of 15s. 1d. as an extreme rate at the present time in a county like Westmeath. I do not know what is the rate paid in Longford, but if you put on extra rates on the various counties in Ireland, the result will be on next March, when the estimates are made out for the different bodies the Government's compensation claims will be put on the shoulders of the people, and it will have the effect of wiping out to a great extent the share which should go to pay the wage of the working men. It is against that that I want to safeguard the workers by my action in this House. I want to safeguard against starvation hundreds upon hundreds of workers. I have been in hundreds of workers' houses, and I fully realise the position they are in, and I know what is coming. I heard Deputy Gorey state "this is not a war." It is not a war at the present time, but it will be a war if he tries to force this motion upon the people who have returned us to this Dáil. We may look back a few years when the Irish people refused to recognise the right of the British Government to govern them. I know something of Local Government Boards, as I had the honour to be on a few different Committees, County Council, Management Committees, etc., and I know the way they were handicapped and hampered since 1920, all because we did not recognise a foreign Government. The governing bodies in Ireland up to that time—County Councils, etc., did not recognise them, but now we recognise the Irish Government, and now is that Irish Government going to place upon us the same penalty as the foreign government placed upon us? I ask you, Mr. Chairman, what have we done to deserve that a motion like this would be forced upon us, without time being given to consider the matter seriously? I hope, for the welfare of the nation that the President will withdraw his motion. Let him bring it forward in a month's time. That will give us sufficient time to understand it, and allow it to go through the Press. It will also give an opportunity for finding all the malicious injury claims granted in different parts of the country. We must get something to go on with. An important motion of this sort should not be handed in at five o'clock on an afternoon, to be considered the next day at three. I would ask the President to withdraw his motion, and defer bringing it forward again for a month so as to allow the Deputies here to get the views of their different County Councils and District Councils and the people generally in the areas they represent, in order that we may act by the will of the people, and that we, the Irish Government, will give everybody freedom of speech, and do what they like for the welfare of their nation.
I rise to support the motion. I believe it is going to relieve the local authorities of burdens which were placed upon them by law at the present time. That is the position that the Minister takes up when he proposes this to the Dáil. If we examine the motion carefully, we will find that he does not propose to relieve these bodies beyond a certain specified date, which is not mentioned at the moment. I am at a loss to know why it is that anybody in this Dáil will object to these bodies being relieved out of the Exchequer, instead of placing the burdens directly on the local rates. I am of opinion, and I know it very well, that local bodies at present have to overtax their people to an extent which they are unable to bear. If a Minister comes forward with a resolution to relieve these local bodies, I cannot see why it is that any section of this Dáil should oppose that motion. I have heard a good deal from the Labour benches about putting burdens on the local rates, and burdens on the working man. Does it appeal, I wonder, to any man on the Labour benches, or does he believe, that money for this purpose can be found outside of taxation of some kind or other? Surely we are not going to adopt the German method and start printing presses to make money and ruin our national credit. If these burdens are not borne by the rates, surely they will have to be borne by the taxes that will be placed on commodities which the workman will have to purchase, as well as every other member of the community. That is the position, and that is the standpoint from which Labour should look upon this motion. They will have to pay more if it is to be by taxation than they will have to pay if borne by the rates. The rates are not able to bear much more at the present time, but they are being relieved, and the Ministry propose to relieve them for some time longer. But the Ministry are quite right when they say a day must come when that must cease, and I agree with them. Therefore, I think that if this Dáil rejects the motion it will be simply committing an act for which the constituents of those who oppose it will not thank them in the least. As far as I know, the resolution is a good resolution, and one worthy of the support of the Dáil. Now, the date is one thing that should be determined by the Dáil, if it were possible for the Ministry to allow the Dáil to do it. Perhaps the members of the Dáil would be better judges, for they would be consulting their local bodies and the people who will have to foot the bills. I think the general principles of the motion are worthy of the acceptance of the Dáil, and for that reason I give it my support.
I rise to ask the President and Government in this case to defer this motion. The time, I believe, is not ripe for such. Until we have some conditions of stable government in the country—some courts or some conditions where the laws can be enacted—I do not think this motion is practicable at all, and I think the deferring of it, for some time at least, would be a wise move on the part of the Government. An appeal was made by the Minister for Local Government to the Deputies here to use their influence in the country to try and have the taxes, the rates, the rents, the annuities, and all these, paid. I assure you, Mr. Chairman, such has been done in my county. On every occasion that the farmers of the county met, they have advised the people to pay their rates, their taxes, and to pay their annuities. They have done so on several occasions, and with the appeal of the Minister for Local Government—an appeal which has not been made from the Government before—I think under the circumstances the President would be wise in deferring his motion for some time. I regret to say I cannot support the Government in this case until, as I said before, we get some sort of Government—the country policed, courts established, or some effort to bring into operation machinery for the collection of this money. I do not think the passing of the motion will do the least good. I say the motion is entirely premature. It might be well, when stable Government is established, to bring on such a motion, and I will be the first member of the Dáil to support such a motion under those conditions.
It was rather interesting in this discussion to observe how adversity brings about strange bedfellows. Now one of the chief objections that were put up in the earlier part of the discussion was that this present sitting of the Dail was something like the English House of Commons some years ago, with a certain party in it occupying a position something like the Irish Party. I would be rather glad if we could get away from our view of this thing about the English Parliament. We have one here now, and it is up to us to make the most of it. What is the actual case that was being paralleled? In the one instance you had a Government imposed upon the will of the people here without any moral authority, seeking to impose laws for the protection of its servants, in carrying out a Government in direct contravention of the people's will. And at the present moment the position is that you have a nation setting up a Parliament of its own, authorising the Parliament to have a national army, entrusting the Parliament to fashion a Constitution, and endeavouring to restore stability and an ordered normal condition of things, and certain irresponsible elements in the community agitating to bring down the whole social fabric. Now I have heard of a number of cases throughout the entire country in which people belonging to families of fairly good standing, to use a country expression, are operating against the interests of the community and of the material possessions of the community in the locality. I heard one Member speaking here against this motion, and in his county I know, and I could bring him to the house of the people mainly responsible for most of the damage done in that particular locality, and I expect the Deputy himself knew that when he was speaking here. I listened to another Deputy from a certain county in which a family lives, the majority of which supports this House and the Treaty, and so on; yet, with one member of it, a young lady, directing operations against the bridges all around the entire district, save and except one bridge that led the way to the family possessions.
To the public house owned by the family?
Yes, to the family possessions where there was a business being carried on. And that was left undisturbed. And the family naturally are supporting the Government and supporting the young lady also, in reserving to the family a right of way to this place.
Keeping the Bridge.
There are other cases, A Chinn Chomhairle, in which Managers of Banks unarmed stood up against robbers who came in to demand money and the robbers went away without the money. And there is at least one case of a Postmaster, who when two robbers came in with guns said to them, that there was a fine garden and that if they would distribute the guns he would settle the matter at the end of the garden, and the gentlemen with the guns left without getting any money. That is the sort of spirit and there is no use in saying that one gun was able to hold up a whole community. It is not. Bismarck failed to do it before Paris. He failed to reduce Paris by artillery and he had to do it by starvation. And if you wish the same thing to happen here it can be done if the whole people stand up against this onslaught not upon property but national rights, the right to live your own lives as you wish. Now I think I have some claim to speak about the Criminal and Malicious Injury Acts. That will be admitted I think by those who have any experience of Local Government in the last few years. The principle of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Acts as they were administered was bad. The principle as it is here functioning under courts that were set up by this Parliament is good. It secures the maximum right to the people and it secures the active co-operation of every citizen in seeing that damage is not done without at least information being brought to the proper source in order to bring the people responsible to justice. That information has not come in, in the way in which it ought come to the Government. It is coming in much more generously than people think, and these operating against the Government know that pretty well and it is surprising them. We are getting the information, but it ought to be flowing in and it ought to be the duty of every citizen to see that it would flow in. A Deputy mentioned Dublin and I wondered whether I was an outcast from Dublin or not; I thought I had some interest in Dublin. I was born here and represented the Constituency in the Corporation for many years, and it would be strange if I were to declare war on the ratepayers of the City of Dublin, having for many years endeavoured to secure them from any unlawful or immoral claims on their purses. At least during the last two or three years I think I did one man's part in regard to that. When Deputies are speaking of this extraordinary drain on the rates of the country, it would be right that they consider what the alternative is in the matter and the Government assuming the whole of the liability in this connection. It may be somewhere in the neighbourhood of twenty or thirty million pounds and the interest on that will amount at least to a million or a million and a half yearly. What are we to tax? The heads of Farmers, or the heads of Trade Unions, or Dogs, or Racehorses, or Tea, or Sugar. You will have to bring it in, some way or another. I am sure you cannot tax Deputies of this Dáil more than they are taxed at present and if you did you would not get in one and a half millions a year; but you must remember that if you are going to get the interest it must be raised out of something or other. It is not in the National Exchequer, and you will realise that when you have the Budget before you. And if it were in the National Exchequer you know every penny of that money is required. Now for three years we have saved the people of the country from unlawful and immoral demands endeavoured to be placed upon them by an alien authority, and they have lost nothing. Local Government has lost nothing during all that period. I explained in my opening statement that the rates this year were not as heavy as they were in other years. A Deputy mentioned that the Longford rates were 15s. 2d.
Longford is in the neighbourhood of 6s., and I am surprised at Deputy Lyons not knowing that.
I should say the average is about 8s. instead of 15s. 2d. I think the honourable Deputy must have had last year's rates in his mind, which probably have not been paid yet.
Westmeath rates have been paid. This year's rate on the land in Westmeath is 8s. 3d.
I understand it is a fairly well-to-do county, and you may be able to bear it.
No, thank, you, we are not.
Now, this money in respect of which these decrees will be obtained will be spent locally. You know that. The Dáil knows that. And consequently an advantage will accrue to each county to the extent of possibly one million pounds. Now, if that money comes from a central fund, ought there to be no contribution whatever from the local authority in that area for the compensation of that million that they will get? Is not it inequitable that you should say that that district—any one of them—take the one-twenty-sixth of the whole area administered—that it would get its quota, approximately one million pounds—that would roll in and benefit the entire district, and the district would contribute nothing whatever towards the advantages that would accrue from the distribution of such a large sum of money. I mentioned that from criminal and malicious injuries claims the local authorities have been entirely relieved during the last two years, although I think the gentlemen sitting opposite know there were many claims that could be legally and properly called criminal and malicious injuries, which should have been borne by the local authorities. They are bulked now, and the State has got to bear them, and even then the State contribution is shared by another State. The purpose of this motion was to relieve local authorities. I think a careful reading of it will disclose no other purpose than to relieve them and eventually make them wholly responsible. What is in the mind of the Government in this matter is to restore that position of responsibility to local authorities which should be properly theirs. We quite admit that with the present conditions, no police being in charge, there is not the necessary security for the local authorities. I think, if Deputies will put back their minds to twelve or eighteen months ago, when police were there, that did not prevent these bills mounting up. It was mentioned in one case that a man could not operate with any degree of strength against armed men. If you look up the files of the late election you will find that Sean McKeon broke up an armed square in Kerry when he was asserting the right of free speech. You can do a lot against these fellows with guns. Do not delude yourself with the idea that you are up against pluck when you see a gun; there is nothing of the sort, and do not let your minds run away with the fact that a hundred men will come up to Dublin and blow up the Government Buildings. We have troops here in Dublin, and we will meet those one hundred men and five hundred men if they venture to bring them in, and it is only by letting everybody in the country know that we are determined to see this thing through and that we are determined to assert the authority of the people, that you will get them to realise their responsibilities and their duties as citizens. The Deputies had really got no right, and it could not be concluded from my statement or from the statement of anybody on these Benches here, that in the event of military operations taking place in a district that it was our intention to make that district liable for the costs that would be entailed by reason of these military operations. No such thing. Surely the members ought to know that there is some justice left and that the Government in conducting military operations like that, would never dream of placing on local authorities a liability which was not properly the local authorities' liability; but it must be known and admitted that grave acts, malicious acts, have been committed in certain localities. I have heard of one in a certain district, I will not mention the name, in which a man wanted five acres. He had already got twenty acres, and there appeared no immediate prospects of his getting five acres, but there was a fairly big house in the district, and he came to the conclusion that the man who owned it—and there were fifty to sixty acres going with it—he came to the conclusion that if the house was burned that that man, although on excellent terms with his neighbours, would probably clear out, putting the money he would get for the house in his pocket, and he would get his five acres. We have his name, but he will not get his five acres although the house was burned. We have the names of other people who are operating with these Irregulars, people who have got money or lands, or property or other things like that, and if it be reasonably possible to make these people pay for the damage they are doing the Government has made up its mind to make them pay. And the whole conception of the idea behind this motion is, not what our friends have pictured—the placing of an impossible burden upon the people's back, but the distributing of that burden, and an endeavour to rope in those responsible, in the interests of common order and common security, and the right to live our lives, without being invaded by these nightly marauders, and to bring about that order and security for which we are all striving, and for which the Members on those benches, as well as on these, were elected to this Dáil. For that reason I ask the opposition to this motion to be withdrawn, because I think we have made out a case for it, and we want the active co-operation and assistance of everybody. We do not want to place on any back a burden which it cannot bear, but we want people to realise that the National Treasury is not inexhaustible, and that its burden should be equally distributed, and that every person should be willing to bear his part of the burden in the best interests of the country.
I would like to say that the President's statement satisfies me.